Findings From Statewide Interviews With Oregon’s Youth 1
Methodology Trip One Warm Springs 5/16: Playground Madras 5/16: Park Bend 5/16: Park Klamath Falls 5/17: Street Car wash Lakeview 5/17: Fairgrounds Burns 5/17: Cinema Ontario 5/18: Ontario High School Baker City 5/18: Baker City High School La Grande 5/18: Street Pendleton 5/19: Pendleton High School 2 Project 2059 Road Trip: one on one, video taped interviews with high school students in Oregon. May 16th – June 4th, 2009 Trip Three Arlington 6/1: Arlington High School The Dalles 6/1: The Dalles High School Hood River 6/1: (Denied) Troutdale 6/1: Found no Youth Beaverton 6/3: (Denied) Southridge High School Hillsboro 6/3: Liberty High School Banks 6/3: (Denied) Forest Grove 6/3: Forest Grove High School Portland 6/4: Jefferson High School Lincoln High School LEP High School Trip Two St Helens 5/26: St Helens High School Astoria 5/26: Astoria High School Seaside 5/26: Seaside High School Tillamook 5/26: Street Lincoln City 5/27: Lincoln City High School Newport Bay 5/27: Newport High School Waldport 5/27: (Denied) Waldport High Florence 5/27: (Denied) Florence High North Bend 5/27: Cafe Coos Bay 5/27: Cafe Bandon 5/27: Cafe Brookings 5/28: Brookings High School Ashland 5/28: Ashland High School Medford 5/28: South Medford High School Grants Pass 5/28: Park Roseburg 5/28: Found No Youth Eugene 5/29: South Eugene High School Corvallis 5/29: Corvallis High School Salem 5/29: South Salem High School Woodburn 5/28: Found no Youth
What issues are you most concerned about for your town? Oregon?
Considering subjects like education, health care, the economy, the environment, safety, equality and social justice, or something else important to you, which issue do you care most about? Why? What about (add your issue) is a problem now?
“I feel like as a community we take care of each other.” Astoria Female “I’m very attached to the community.” St. Helens Male Oregon’s youth are not the cynical adolescents that we see portrayed in the mainstream media. While they understand that there are problems in their regions, many say that they live in small but tight knit communities that they treasure. “We have a pretty tight knit community.” Bandon Female “The community feel is really good around here, people really do care.” La Grande Male “There’s a great support system here.” Medford Female “We have a really good community support system.” Brookings Female 5
Across the state, youth say they love Oregon because of its natural beauty, lush forests, ocean and mountains. Our state’s natural legacy is clearly a point of pride for them. “I love that Oregon has a lot of trees and nature.” Astoria Female “I love Oregon because it’s green and lush. You have the coast and mountains with mild weather and friendly people” Portland Male “I love Oregon because of the community and the outdoors.” St. Helens Male “I love the mountains, just the natural diversity in the landscape.” Pendleton Female “I love Oregon because of the communities and small towns.” Salem Female “Everything. I really love Oregon. I can’t ever imagine ever living anywhere else.” Bandon Female “I love Oregon because of the seasons and you can connect to nature.” Bend Female “I love hunting and fishing.” Baker City Male “I love the outdoors. I love the weather. I’m a big outdoors guy.” Medford Male “I love Oregon because there is so much to do outside, like rock climbing and outdoor activities.” Klamath Falls Male “I love the nature in Oregon.” Burns Male 6
While YouthValue Their Peers’ Opinions, They Feel That Their Cohort Does Not Have a Collective Voice When it Comes to Community or Statewide Decision-Making “There are some kids out there who have really good ideas and great ideas for what we should do. Parents, teachers and even the government should go to them to figure out what we need to fix.” Salem Male “Well we’re going to be the ones inheriting this state, we’re going to be the ones running it in 20 to 30 years. We should have some say in how that goes.” Newport Male “Youth voice is very important. There are a lot of decisions that are made about young people but it’s not common for us to have a voice on these issues even though we’re the experts.” Portland Female “We’re the voice of tomorrow so we should have a say in what happens in the community.” Astoria Male “I think because we’re going to be inheriting everything I think it would make sense for us to have a louder voice in the community decisions and in just deciding which direction our community is going to go in.” Coos Bay Male “Adults really under estimate teenagers. We should be able to have a bigger voice in what goes on in Salem and Oregon” Salem Female “We have a right to have a part of what goes on here. We are growing up in this town and state.” Brookings Female 7
Youth are interested in creating more activities in their own community, especially because they think there isn’t enough for youth to do.
Some ideas that they shared were an event like a day camp or conference, a concert or art show.
Youth were also interested in having a permanent club or activity space be built in their community.
“Music is powerful, art is powerful, to have people convey messages through music to the youth, I think that’s also very important.” Coos Bay Female “Ways to get youth involved, start an organization or club in every town to help and change.” Klamath Falls Male 8
Is New Social Media a Silver Bullet When It Comes to Reaching Oregon’s Youth? High school students in Oregon are not especially plugged in. While many have Facebook, Myspace or email, they say that they don’t spend too much time on the Internet. We also need to keep in mind that not all youth in Oregon have access to high speed Internet; “Where I live we have dial-up so I don’t go on the internet because it’s too slow.” Newport Female 9
Issues That Are the Most Important to Oregon’s Youth: “The Three E’s” - the Economy, Education Funding and the Environment 10
The Economy: Not Enough Jobs, and Communities Are in Need of New Industry “The biggest problem is the economy and lack of jobs.” Klamath Falls Male “For the future, I really hope we get out of this rut and I really hope we get jobs.” Salem Female “We’re doing bad because we’re in a recession.” Portland Male Oregon’s youth see their families, friends and neighbors losing their jobs and worry our sliding economy could similarly hinder their chances for a prosperous future. They also realize, especially, but not exclusively, in the more rural parts of the state, that major industries, logging and fishing in particular, are dying out. They look to innovation to save these natural resource-dependent communities. “I even have family members who have been laid off.” Pendleton Female “The economy. It’s hard to get a job in Bend.” Bend Female “We need to get jobs into the community and stimulate the economy.” Corvallis Female “The mill is closing down and when it closes people will have to move because of lack of jobs.” St. Helens Male “We need more jobs. We need a new source of work and industry.” Burns Male 12
Across the State, Students Worry About Budget Cuts to Education “We’re facing financial problems that are affecting our schools.” Corvallis Female “With the budget shortfalls our biggest challenge in Oregon is our school system. We’re not doing as well as we could in educating our youth.” Portland Female “I think the biggest problem that is going to occur in our community in the near future are the budget cuts happening in our school district.” Pendleton Male Oregon’s youth say that if they were in power they would increase education funding. They were aware - even before the economic downturn - of school funding shortfalls, and they know that the current budget crisis has resulted in yet more devastating cuts to their already strapped schools. While across the state youth say they are receiving a good education, they identify programs that need more funding and are bothered by a lack of art, music and physical education. “I would try and put more funding in the schools.” Brookings Female “I would like to see education be made an even bigger priority for the state. And making sure all the schools have enough money.” Corvallis Male “Most definitely the economy has taken a toll on our school system.” Medford Female “Some teachers I know lost their jobs and they’re good people and deserve a job.” North Bend Male “Budget cuts in the schools is a problem. Students won’t be able to be involved with as much stuff.” Brookings Female “All the schools are in trouble. I’m concerned with money for education.” Brookings Female 14
Oregon's Youth Feel That There Aren’t Enough Extracurricular Activities, Which Leads to Delinquency “Definitely not enough are in the schools and extracurricular activities because they are the first things to be cut and go with budget cuts and I think they are essential.” Bandon Female “I don’t feel that there are enough youth programs because if there were we shouldn’t have gang violence or drug activity.” Portland Male “The smaller towns need more help for the kids. That’s why we have a meth population. They get involved in other things if they don’t have anything to do.” Brookings Male Schools are the largest source for extracurricular activities for the Oregon youth. Many worry that with the budget cuts, these valuable programs will be reduced and that there aren’t enough youth activities as it is. They say that the lack of activities is what leads their peers to delinquency and drug use. “There are a lot of kids who don’t have anything to do and get in trouble instead.” Salem Female “I think a lot of the youth get into drugs a lot cause there’s nothing to do.” Ashland Female “We need more stuff for kids to do. Places to go so kids stay out of trouble.” Klamath Female “Drugs are a major problem here in Medford. If we had more programs for youth on drugs and to help them get off of that.” Medford Male “We need more youth programs because we have kids just running around, doing nothing and getting in trouble.” Baker City Female “Kids getting in trouble for not being involved in more activities.” Brookings Female “Well our town is kind of small and because of that I think there aren’t that many things for kids to do.” Newport Female 15
The Environment 16 “In Oregon the economy is hurting but we’re doing good with sustainability and we’re far ahead of other states.” Corvallis Male
The Environment: Oregon is a Leader When it Comes to the “Green Movement,” But Many Youth Say We Need to Do More “Environment, we need to take care of the land.” Klamath Falls Male “There’s a lot of logging and forest cut down, it’s very irritating. I think we could organize to help keep Oregon there.” Portland Male “As a state we’re more environmental. We have a lot more environmental programs, still not enough.” Portland Male Oregon youth cherish the natural beauty and resources of the state. They are aware that protecting the environment today is necessary to ensure that we will be able to pass it along to future generations. And they think the high value Oregonians place on the environment is part of the culture of the state, which makes it a unique and special place to live. “I think we need to stress environmental importance because at the moment there are still people debating whether global warming exists or not. It’s really important because this is the only earth we have and if we mess it up, where are we going to live?” Newport Female “I think we all need to just live a little bit greener and impact the environment less. Also encourage others to do the same.” Coos Bay Male 17
The Environment: The New Industry for Oregon’s Future “In Ashland we only have a few industries. I feel like with the stimulus package, Ashland could be a hub for green energy. I feel like we’ll head that way in terms of industry.” Ashland Male “I’d also like to work towards green jobs and things like that.” Coos Bay Male “I’d like to see us more inventing things that are more environmentally friendly.” Ashland Female “In the next few years with what Oregon’s doing with it’s renewable resources, it should create more jobs and Oregon’s just going to be a happier place.” Medford Male “I can see Oregon being a pioneer in green energy, sustainable energy. I mean just in how Oregon has been a pioneer in sustainable land management from Portland’s urban growth boundary to the land management practices introduced in the 70’s. I think we will be the pioneer in the field of green technology.” Newport Male 18 Interviewees say that Oregon is on the forefront of the “green movement.” They believe that Oregon should continue working on and being the leader in renewable energy and sustainable practices to create a new industry and good-paying jobs for the state; especially for the rural areas that are hurting because of the loss of logging and fishing jobs. “I think the state is doing well, especially in sustainability.” Corvallis Male
Sustainability Versus Green Generally, the youth were not able to define sustainability. “Sustainability, I really don’t know what that word means.” Salem Female If they could define it, a recurring answer was “keeping your head above water.” Very few related it to environmental practices. “Green” was much more of a catch-word that youth related to the environment, recycling and renewable energy. “Green, besides the color, it means an eco-friendly lifestyle.” Newport Female 19